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Domain registration scam

Back in March I mentioned a domain registration scam originating from a Chinese domain called picweb.net. It looks like the scammers have now relocated to ygitech.com, which was re-registered just a few weeks ago.

If you receive any emails that look like the following, then please ignore them. Their claims are completely bogus. Don’t visit their website either; their emails may simply be an enticement to visit their site so they can install malware on your computer.

(Please forward this to your CEO, because this is urgent. Thanks)We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in Shanghai, China. On July 22, 2013, we received an application from Taisheng Limited requested “japanesetranslator” as their internet keyword and China (CN) domain names. But after checking it, we find this name conflict with your company name or trademark. In order to deal with this matter better, it’s necessary to send email to you and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China?

Kind regards
Kenny Cheng

Kenny Cheng
General Manager
YGITECH (Headquarters)
B06, Yujing Building, No.1 Jihe Road,
Shanghai 201107, China
Tel: +86-21-6191-8696
Mobile: +86-182-2195-1605
Fax: +86-21-6191-8697
Web: www.ygitech.com

This e-mail contains information (including any attachments) intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If the reader of this e-mail is not the intended recipient or the authorized employee or agent responsible for delivering it to the intended recipient, any dissemination, publication or copying of this e-mail is strictly prohibited and may be illegal. If you have received this communication in error, please notify the sender. Thank you for your cooperation.

Update: 17th October 2013

They’re at it again. I just received a similar email asking me to visit dunic.org:

(Letter to Head of Brand Business or CEO, thanks)

Dear Sir or Madam,

This is a formal email. We are the auditing department of a professional domain name registration and dispute solution organization in China. Here I have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on October 17, 2013 that a company claimed “MAX Holdings Ltd” were applying to register “japanesetranslator” as their Brand Name and some “japanesetranslator” Asian countries top-level domain names through our firm.

Now we are handling this registration, and after our initial checking, we found the name were similar to your company’s, so we need to check with you whether your company has authorized that company to register these names. If you authorized this, we would finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please let us know within 7 workdays, so that we could handle this issue better. After the deadline we will unconditionally finish the registration for “MAX Holdings Ltd”. Looking forward to your prompt reply.

Best Regards,
Victor Yang
Tel: +86.7395266069 Fax:+86.7395266169
Address: 124 Changjiang Road Hefei 230001 Anhui, China

The URL at the end of this email was actually displayed as a JPEG image instead of being typed at the end of the email. This is an old trick used by spammers to get past spam filters that trap links to blacklisted websites.

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Manhole covers of Japan

This photo collection of 423 manhole covers in Japan is nowhere near as dull as it sounds. No, really. I’m being serious!

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WordPress login failures

Back in January I started noticing a lot of failed attempts to log into this website’s admin section, presumably in an attempt to hijack the website and use it to send spam, host illegal content or join some sort of botnet. It seems that many other websites are being affected in the same way.

I’m not particularly worried about this. All of these attempts have so far used the default WordPress user name of “admin”, which doesn’t exist here, and nobody has yet realised that this website is configured to only accept logins over secure connections (i.e., https, not http). Even if they did get that right, it would still take about a billion years to crack the password by brute force. (Well, OK. Perhaps not quite as long as that. But still…)

Anyway, I wrote a script to monitor these failed logins and disable logins altogether from repeat offenders. Since January it’s caught quite a few. Here’s the list of IP addresses that have tried 10 or more times to log in to the non-existent admin account. (Note: This list is updated live, so it will probably keep growing for a while yet.)

List of rogue IP addresses

Total number of failed logins: 332669

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Air hockey robot

Researchers led by Professor Akio Namiki at Chiba University’s Namiki Lab have developed an air-hockey robot that can hold its own against human players. Although it’s not the first robot to play this game, it has the ability to change its strategy based on the playing style of its opponent.


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Translating names into Kanji

Cloak decorated with kanji characters (1973), designed by Kansai Yamamoto for the Aladdin Sane tour

Cloak decorated with kanji characters (1973), designed by Kansai Yamamoto for the Aladdin Sane tour (© The David Bowie Archive)

This summer’s David Bowie exhibition at the V&A museum apparently features several Japan-themed outfits designed by Kansai Yamamoto. The cloak shown here is decorated with the calligraphic characters 出火吐暴威, which represents the name “David Bowie” as follows:

Kanji Meaning
de exit; leave; emit
bi fire (usually hi)
to spit; vomit; belch
outburst; rave; fret; force; violence
i intimidate; dignity; majesty; menace

This translates roughly as “the one who spits fire with forceful menace” (or “one who spits out words in a fiery manner” according to the rest of the blogosphere). Regular visitors to this site are probably already aware that foreign names are normally written using the phonetic katakana syllabary, and not without good reason — kanji characters can usually be read in at least two different ways, so it’s almost impossible to achieve unambiguous results.

For example, film director Yoshikazu Katō and human rights activist Giichi Nomura both share the same given name (義一) but with completely different pronunciations (Yoshikazu and Giichi). At least with Japanese names it’s usually possible to make an educated guess of the most likely pronunciation. But with foreign names and words, it’s much harder. This is precisely the sort of ambiguity that katakana was designed to eliminate.

If you really do want to translate your name into kanji, there are a few things you need to bear in mind:

Linguist Jack Halpern writes his name as 春遍雀來 (Harupen Jakku), but with a furigana pronunciation guide (ハルペン ジャック) to avoid confusion. (From the Japanese title page of the New Japanese-English Character Dictionary)

Linguist Jack Halpern writes his name as 春遍雀來 (Harupen Jakku), but with a furigana pronunciation guide (ハルペン ジャック) to avoid confusion. (From the Japanese title page of the New Japanese-English Character Dictionary, 1st edition)

  • Kanji characters are ideographs, so you have to consider the meaning as well as the pronunciation of each one. (Try to avoid characters like “vomit”!)
  • Katakana offers a better range of pronunciation. For example, デイヴィッド (deividdo) is much closer to the English pronunciation of “David” than debito.
  • Unless you’re already well known, you’ll still have to explain to Japanese people how your name should be pronounced.
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Space Invaders

Space Invaders — the original “shoot-em-up” video game — was released thirty five years ago this month.

The game was developed almost single-handedly by an engineer called Toshihiro Nishikado (西角友宏) at Taito Corporation in Japan. For the aliens in the game, he drew inspiration from the octopus-like creatures in the 1953 film The War Of The Worlds. This led on to various other sea creatures:

The octopus came first, so I thought, maybe I should try a squid and a crab. But then they didn’t look very threatening, so I kept trying to come up with something else.

Here are some of his original sketches:

If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, why not see how far you can get with this Flash version of the game. Use the left and right arrow buttons to move, and press the space bar to fire:

This version of Space Invaders is hosted by flashgames312.com

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False fingers for ex-Yakuza

Yubi-tsume (指詰め) — the practice of chopping off a little finger as an act of penitence — has been going on in the Japanese underworld for many years.

Recent anti-gang laws have persuaded many of Japan’s Yakuza that life would be easier on the straight and narrow. However, it can be difficult for them to find an honest job. Their trademark tattoos (irezumi; 入れ墨) are widely frowned upon, and many establishments will refuse to serve — let alone employ — anyone bearing them. But at least tattoos are easy to cover up. Missing fingers are more of a problem.

This has resulted in a flourishing prosthetics business.

Video by ABC News

Here’s another news item on the same subject by the Australian ABC. You’ll have to click through for the video as they don’t allow off-site embedding. But here’s a nice screenshot:

Prosthetic pinkies for digitally deficient delinquents

A selection of prosthetic pinkies

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Kim Jong-Il’s sushi chef

Kenji Fujimoto (藤本 健二) spent eleven years living in North Korea, eventually becoming Kim Jong-Il’s personal sushi chef and confidant. GQ magazine recently interviewed him back in Japan. Here’s his extraordinary story.

At a lavish Wonsan guesthouse, Fujimoto prepared sushi for a group of executives who would be arriving on a yacht. Executive is Fujimoto’s euphemism for generals, party officials, or high-level bureaucrats. In other words, Kim Jong-il’s personal entourage. And guesthouse is code for a series of palaces decorated with cold marble, silver-braided bedspreads, ice purple paintings of kimilsungia blossoms, and ceilings airbrushed with the cran-apple mist of sunset, as if Liberace’s jet had crashed into Lenin’s tomb.

At two in the morning, the boat finally docked. Fujimoto began serving sushi for men who obviously had been through a long party already. He would come to realize these parties tended to be stacked one atop another, sometimes four in a row, spreading out over days.

All the men wore military uniforms except for one imperious fellow in a casual sports tracksuit. This man was curious about the fish. He asked Fujimoto about the marbled, fleshy cuts he was preparing.

“That’s toro,” Fujimoto told him.

For the rest of the night, this man kept calling out, “Toro, one more!”

The next day, Fujimoto was talking to the mamasan of his hotel. She was holding a newspaper, the official Rodong Sinmun, and on the front page was a photo of the man in the tracksuit. Fujimoto told her this was the man he’d just served dinner.

“She started trembling,” Fujimoto said of the moment he realized the man’s true identity. “Then I started trembling.”

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Domain registration scam

I just received an email from someone called Winni Du at picweb.net regarding the registration of “japanesetranslator” as a brand name. This seemed a bit strange — why should it be any of my business if someone else wants to translate Japanese for a living? And what is this “Asian Domain Registration Service in China”? Isn’t that the responsibility of CNNIC?

A quick search for picweb.net confirmed  my suspicion that this is a scam of some sort. Presumably they want me to cough up “processing fees” to protect this web domain from some imaginary threat. Or perhaps they just want me to visit their website and get my computer infected with the latest virus.

If you receive any similar emails, you can delete them straight away. And don’t visit their website, just in case.

Sorry Winni, but you’re going into the spam filter. Here’s the message in full:

Spam from picweb.biz

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Two years later

About 160,000 people were evacuated from the region surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after the meltdown two years ago. There is still no clear indication of when it might be safe for them to move back home, and elderly evacuees are now having to face the possibility that they may never get the chance.

Meanwhile, it seems like the Japanese government will soon have to bow to economic necessity and restart the reactors that were shut down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Engineers now have a much clearer idea of how to prepare for the next major earthquake. Hopefully this time they will get it right.

This TV news report from inside the Fukushima exclusion zone is interesting, but in some places it tends towards blatant scaremongering rather than balanced journalism.

In other news, The Atlantic has published a series of photos showing how Japanese towns and cities have recovered since the tsunami two years ago. It’s clear that there’s still an awful lot of rebuilding still to be done.

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Header image: The three wise monkeys (三匹の猿) at Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō (日光東照宮), said to be the origin of the saying “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”. Photo: Frank Gualtieri.

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